Alejandro González Iñárritu (Spanish pronunciation: [aleˈxandɾo gonˈsales iˈɲaritu]; credited since 2014 as Alejandro G. Iñárritu; born August 15, 1963) is a Mexican film director, producer, screenwriter, and former composer. He is the first Mexican director to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director and the Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing, for Babel in 2007. He is also the first Mexican-born director to have won the Prix de la mise en scene (Best Director award) at the Cannes Film Festival. In 2016, he won the award for Best Director at the Golden Globe awards for his film The Revenant.
His six feature films – Amores perros (2000), 21 Grams (2003), Babel (2006) (comprising the “Death Trilogy”), Biutiful (2010), Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014), and The Revenant (2015) – have garnered wide acclaim and numerous accolades including Academy Award nominations. In 2015, he won the Academy Award for Best Director, along with Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture for Birdman. His sixth film, The Revenant, was released on December 25, 2015.
Alejandro González Iñárritu was born in Mexico City, the son of Luz María Iñárritu and Hector González Gama. Crossing the Atlantic Ocean on a cargo ship at the age of 16 and 18, González Iñárritu worked his way across Europe and Africa. He has noted that these early travels as a young man have had a great influence on him as a filmmaker. The setting of his films have often been in the places he visited during this period. After his travels, González Iñárritu returned to Mexico City and majored in communications at Universidad Iberoamericana.
González Iñárritu began his career in 1984 as a radio host at the Mexican radio station WFM, the country’s most popular rock music station, where he “pieced together playlists into a loose narrative arc”. He later became the youngest producer for Televisa, the largest mass media company in Latin America. From 1987 to 1989, he composed music for six Mexican feature films. During this time, González Iñárritu became acquainted with Mexican writer Guillermo Arriaga, beginning their screenwriting collaborations. González Iñárritu has stated that he believes music has had a bigger influence on him as an artist than film itself.
In the early 1990s, González Iñárritu created Z films, a production company, with Raul Olvera in Mexico. Under Z Films, he started writing, producing and directing short films and advertisements. Making the final transition into TV and film directing, he studied under well-known Polish theater director Ludwik Margules, as well as Judith Weston in Los Angeles. In 1995, González Iñárritu wrote and directed his first TV pilot for Z Films, called Detras del dinero, or Behind the Money, starring Miguel Bosé. Z Films went on to be one of the biggest and strongest film production companies in Mexico, launching seven young directors in the feature film arena.
In 1999, González Iñárritu directed his first feature film Amores perros, co-written with Guillermo Arriaga. Amores perros explored Mexican society in Mexico City told via three intertwining stories. In 2000, Amores perros premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and won the Critics’ Week Grand Prize. It was the film debut of actor Gael García Bernal, who would later appear in Babel and the González Iñárritu-produced Mexican film Rudo y Cursi. Amores perros was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
After the success of Amores Perros, González Iñárritu and Guillermo Arriaga revisited the intersected stories structure of Amores perros in González Iñárritu’s second feature film, 21 Grams. The film starred Benicio del Toro, Naomi Watts and Sean Penn. It was selected to compete for the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, where Penn received the Volpi Cup for Best Actor. At the 76th Academy Awards, Del Toro and Watts received nominations for their performances.
In 2005, González Iñárritu embarked on his third film, Babel, the last in his “Death Trilogy”, co-written with Guillermo Arriaga. Babel comprises four interrelated stories set in Morocco, Mexico, the United States, and Japan, in four different languages. The film stars Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Adriana Barraza, Gael Garcia Bernal, Rinko Kikuchi and Kōji Yakusho. The rest of the cast comprised non-professional actors. The film competed at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival, where González Iñárritu received the Best Director Award (Prix de la mise en scène), becoming the first Mexican-born director to win the award.
Babel received seven nominations at the 79th Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Directing. Gustavo Santaolalla, the film’s composer, won the Academy Award for Best Original Score. The film won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Drama in 2007. González Iñárritu became the first Mexican director to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Directing and the Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing. After this third feature film collaboration with writing partner Guillermo Arriaga, González Iñárritu and he professionally parted ways, following González Iñárritu barring Arriaga from the set during filming. Arriaga told th
e Los Angeles Times in 2009, “It had to come to an end, but I still respect [González Iñárritu].”
In 2009, González Iñárritu directed and produced Biutiful, starring Javier Bardem, written by González Iñárritu, Armando Bó, Jr., and Nicolás Giacobone. The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2010. Bardem went on to win Best Actor (shared with Elio Germano for La nostra vita) at Cannes. Biutiful is González Iñárritu’s first film in his native Spanish since his debut feature Amores perros. The film was nominated at the 2011 Golden Globes for Best Foreign Language Film, and at the BAFTA Awards for Best Film Not in the English Language and Best Actor. For the second time in his career, González Iñárritu’s film was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards; Javier Bardem’s performance was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor.
In 2014, González Iñárritu directed, co-produced and co-wrote his first comedy, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), starring Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts, Zach Galifianakis, and Andrea Riseborough. Birdman is about a washed-up actor famed for playing an iconic superhero who tries to revive his career by doing a play based on the Raymond Carver short story “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.” The film and González Iñárritu won the Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay, and the Academy Award for Best Picture, Best Directing, and Best Original Screenplay.
Iñárritu’s next film as a director was The Revenant, which he and Mark L. Smith adapted from Michael Punke’s novel of the same name. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, and Will Poulter. It is a “gritty” 19th-century period drama-thriller about fur trapper Hugh Glass, who historically joined the Rocky Mountain Fur Company on a “journey into the wild” and was robbed and abandoned after being mauled by a grizzly bear. The film considers the nature and stresses on relationships under the duress of the wilderness, and issues of revenge and pardon via Glass’ pursuit of the man who was responsible for his hardships. Iñárritu insisted that computer-generated imagery not be used to enhance the film. The Revenant took nine months to shoot. The film received “generally favorable” reviews, and was nominated for four Golden Globe Awards and won three, including Best Motion Picture – Drama and Best Director, and nine Critics’ Choice Movie Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. The Revenant premiered at the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles, California on December 16, 2015 and had a limited release on December 25, 2015 in order to qualify for Academy Award nominations in February 2016, followed by a general release on January 8, 2016.
From 2001 to 2011, González Iñárritu directed several short films. In 2001, he directed an 11-minute film segment for 11’09″01 September 11 – which is composed of several short films that explore the effects of the 9/11 terrorist attacks from different points of view around the world. In 2007, he made ANNA, part of French anthology film Chacun son cinéma, which screened at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival. Chacun son cinéma, a collection of 34 short films by 34 renowned film directors representing 25 countries, was produced for the 60th anniversary of the film festival. In 2012, González Iñárritu made the experimental short film Naran Ja: One Act Orange Dance, inspired by L.A Dance Project’s premiere performance, featuring excerpts from the new choreography Benjamin Millepied crafted for Moving Parts. The story takes place in a secluded, dusty space and centers around LADP dancer Julia Eichten.
In 2002, González Iñárritu directed “Powder Keg”, an episode for the BMW short film series The Hire, starring Clive Owen as the driver. It won the Cannes Gold Lion Advertising Award. In 2010, González Iñárritu directed “Write the Future”, a football-themed commercial for Nike ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which went on to win the Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions Advertising Festival. In 2012, he directed Procter & Gamble’s “Best Job” commercial spot for the 2012 Olympic Ceremonies. It won the Best Primetime Commercial Emmy at Creative Arts Emmy Awards and the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Commercials.
On October 4, 2012, Facebook released a González Iñárritu-directed brand film titled “The Things That Connect Us” to celebrate the social network reaching one billion users.
González Iñárritu is married to Maria Eladia Hagerman, an editor and graphic designer. Hagerman and Iñárritu lost a newborn son in the mid 1990s. They have a son and daughter. Iñárritu is reportedly of the Catholic faith.
|2000||Amores perros||Yes||Yes||Yes||The Death Trilogy|
|2008||Rudo y Cursi||No||Yes||No|
|2014||Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)||Yes||Yes||Yes|
- Detrás del dinero (1995) (TV)
- El Timbre (1996)
- Powder Keg (2001) (“The Hire” series for BMW)
- 11’09″01 September 11 (2002)
- Chacun son cinema (2007) (segment “ANNA“)
- Naran Ja (One Act Orange Dance) (2012)
Awards and nominations
González Iñárritu has been recognized with multiple awards for his films, including three Academy Awards, two Directors Guild of America Awards, a Producers Guild of America Award, a BAFTA Award, three AACTA Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, two Independent Spirit Awards, two American Film Institute Awards, and three Cannes Film Festival awards. He is the first Mexican director to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Directing and the Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing, and the first to win the Best Director Award at the Cannes Film Festival. In 2015, González Iñárritu won, among many other accolades, the Directors Guild Award for Outstanding Directing, the Producers Guild of America Award for Best Theatrical Motion Picture, and the Academy Award for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay and Best Directing for Birdman, becoming the first Mexican to win three Oscars.
In 2006, González Iñárritu was honored at the Gotham Awards’ World Cinema Tribute, alongside fellow Mexican filmmakers Alfonso Cuarón and Guillermo del Toro. In June 2015, González Iñárritu received the Sundance Institute’s Vanguard Leadership Award for the “originality and independent spirit” of his films. In November 2015, he will be honored by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art at its Art + Film Gala. Alejandro G. Iñárritu won the 2016 Golden Globe Award for Best Director for the motion picture drama “The Revenant.”